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Internet Beaming Balloons Being Tested by Google

Project Loon

With a mission of providing Internet access to rural and remote regions of the world, tech giant Google continues to conduct tests on Project Loon, which will enable billions of people to get online. Viewed as the next billion-dollar business, Google X developed the project composed of a network of high-altitude balloons travelling in the stratosphere at altitudes between 18 km to 25 km. They are intended to help fill coverage gaps and bring people back online after disasters.

Coming over from South America, one Internet-beaming balloon has recently arrived in Sri Lanka and two more will arrive soon. Google engineers are currently conducting tests on flight controls, radio spectrum efficiency, and other technical issues. This is a joint venture with the Sri Lankan government, which has a 25% stake on the project. Sri Lankan officials hope to launch 13 balloons across the country to deliver high-speed Internet.

The first 30 Internet balloons were pilot tested and flown over New Zealand on June 16, 2013 followed by trials in Western Queensland and the Australian Outback on December 2014. Google plans eventually to have a ring of Internet balloons encircling the Earth and provide connectivity to the estimated two-thirds of people who are presently unwired.

The helium balloons carry antennas that can beam 4G signals to premises and cellular phones 20 km below. They provide connectivity to a ground area of about 40 km in diameter using LTE wireless communication technology in the 470-582 MHz band, which can efficiently reach deep inside buildings. They have a lifespan of 180 days and encircle the globe on stratospheric winds. This breakthrough project is attractive for developing countries relieving them from having to set up costly underground fibre cabling.

Stay tuned to learn more useful tips on how to get the best possible connection at home. To get the best Internet plans for your home, you can visit our Plan Guru or call 13 22 88 to speak to our 100% Australian advice specialists.

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